I have made up the example below.

(1a) Today is very sunny. For the past two days, it has rained a lot.

My non-native English speaking friends think the tense used for "rain" is wrong. Their revised sentence is given below.

(1b) Today is very sunny. For the past two days, it rained a lot.

Which tense of "to rain" is correct? Thank you very much for your time and help.

Original Post
ansonman posted:

[. . .] (1a) Today is very sunny. For the past two days, it has rained a lot. [. . .]
(1b) Today is very sunny. For the past two days, it rained a lot.

Hi, Ansonman,

Neither sentence pair works well. Your sentence pair would work better than your friends' if the first sentence were not part of it. "For the past two days" specifies a period of time leading right up to the present moment, so the present perfect is needed. There is no separation between now and "the past two days."

The problem is that the first sentence of each pair, including yours, contradicts the second. That today is very sunny implies that there has not been rain right up until now. The easy way to fix this problem is to use "over" (which specifies a time span) instead of "for" (which expresses duration). And add a term of contrast:

(1c) Today is very sunny. Over the past two days, however, it has rained a lot.
(1d) Today is very sunny, but it has rained a lot over the past two days.

How about if I wanted to make a distinction between the past two calendar days and the past 48 hours till now?

To give a little background let me explain here.

"Last week" without "the" signals the calendar week and takes the simple past. So we say: It rained a lot last week. (Simple past)

The same is true for:

-last month/ last year/ last decade/ last century

But when we add "the" to "last week" the meaning changes to the past seven days from today and here we use the present perfect because the time is connected to the present, it is not a finished time in the past. So we say: It has rained a lot in the last/past week.

The same is true for: the last/past month; the last/past year; the last/past decade/ the last/past century.

Now, I want to make a distinction between the past two calendars days and the past 48 hours. I think that past two calendar days will take the simple past and the past 48 hours will take the present perfect. But how can I express that? I will give it a try.

1. It rained a lot (in/for/over) the last/past two days. (Simple past to signal calendar days)

2. It has rained a lot (in/for/over) the last/past two days. (Present perfect to signal the 48 hours leading up to this hour)

Are my last two sentences correct in making the distinction between the 2 calendars days and the 48 hours up to now?

 

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